FOOD: THE PERFECT PUDDING

Tom Aikens of Pied a Terre, Peter Gordon of the Sugar Club - Britain's top chefs reveal how to make their signature desserts for the Sunday Review. By Michael Bateman; TOP 20 DESSERTS: PART 2
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ANTON EDELMANN'S ORANGE QUARK SOUFFLE

With respect to clients who love desserts but don't enjoy being loaded with calories, Anton Edelmann created this souffle - now something of a signature dish. Quark is a low-fat cheese which provides the texture.

Serves 6

4 oranges

2 eggs, size 2

300g/10oz quark

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

5 teaspoons cornflour

2 tablepoons light rum

6 tablepoons icing sugar

1 egg white, from a size-2 egg

300ml/112 pints freshly squeezed orange juice

For the caramelized orange zest:

very thin zest of two unwaxed oranges

150g/5oz sugar

100m/312fl oz water

Pare the zest thinly from the two oranges, being careful not to take any of the pith. Cut into very thin strips, blanche in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. (You can use half water and half grenadine.) Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the strips of zest and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sugar syrup has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Leave the zest in the sugar syrup until ready to use.

Peel the four oranges and cut out segments. Butter and sugar six individual souffle dishes that are about 8cm (312in) in diameter and 3.5 cm (112in) deep. Heat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7.

Separate the two eggs. Mix the two egg yolks, quark, lemon zest, two- and-a-half teaspoons of the cornflour, the rum and half of the icing sugar.

In another bowl, whisk the three egg whites with the remaining icing sugar to a stiff peak. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the quark mixture to loosen, then gently fold in remaining whites with a large metal spoon. Divide the souffle mixture among the prepared dishes. Set the dishes in a roasting pan and pour enough cold water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Mix the remaining cornflour with two tablespoons of the orange juice. Strain the remaining juice into a saucepan and heat, then stir in the cornflour mixture. Simmer, stirring until thickened. Just before serving, add the orange segments and heat through.

Remove the segments and arrange around the edge of the warmed plates. If using zest, put a strip on each orange segment. Remove the souffles from the oven and lift them out of the pan of water. Holding each dish in a towel, loosen the sides of the souffle with a sharp knife and turn out upside down in the centre of a plate. Spoon the orange sauce around, serve immediately. Decorate with a little orange zest.

! The Savoy, Strand, London WC2 (0171 836 4343)

MICHAEL CAINES'S MILLE FEUILLE

OF CHOCOLATE AND BANANA PARFAIT WITH LIME SORBET

Michael Caines spent his apprenticeship with Raymond Blanc in the UK and, in France, Joel Robuchon. In spite of an accident in which he lost an arm, Caines has settled down at Gidleigh Park and promises to join the Michelin two-star elite sooner rather than later. This recipe is for the more experienced.

Serves 6

For the chocolate disks:

200g/7oz tempered white chocolate

400g/14oz tempered dark chocolate

acetate paper

wood grain tool for chocolate

7cm/3in plain cutter

You need a flat surface in a cool area for this recipe. With a damp cloth wet the table. Unroll the acetate paper over the surface and smooth with dry cloth. Stick down the edges with scotch tape.

Using the wood grain tool, pattern the acetate paper in a downwards direction, and leave to set cold. Take the melted dark chocolate and spread thinly over the white chocolate, and leave to set. Before it sets completely, cut out the disks with the cutter, leaving them still on acetate paper. Once the chocolate has completely hardened, remove the disks from the table and store in a container, in the freezer. Or in a cool place.

For the banana parfait:

100g/312oz sugar

30ml/1fl oz water

6 egg yolks

200ml/7fl oz whipped cream

200g/7oz banana puree

40ml/112fl oz creme de banana

juice of 3 limes

Cook the sugar and water to 250F/120C in a sugar pan, then pour on to the egg yolks and beat until cold. Add the banana puree and blend well, then add the creme de banana and lime juice.

Now carefully fold in the whipped cream and pour into a tray 24cm (11in) by 30cm (12in) and 1.5cm (23in) deep. Place in freezer and leave overnight.

Using a 6cm (212in) cutter, cut out 12 parfait pieces and place on to a parchment-covered tray. Store in the freezer.

For the lime confit:

10 limes

1kg/2lb 4oz sugar

1.5 litres/2 pints 8fl oz water

Using a knife, cut around the top and tail of the limes. Score the skin with the tip of the knife eight times lengthways. Place into a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and refresh. Repeat for the other nine limes.

Now add the water and sugar, bring to the boil and cook for eight hours very slowly. Remove from the heat and cool.

For the lime sorbet:

140g/5oz confied limes (as above)

75ml/212fl oz lime stock syrup from the confied limes

100ml/312fl oz lime juice

75ml/212fl oz stock syrup

175ml/6fl oz water

Place the above into a blender and blend until a very fine coulis. Pass through a fine sieve. Turn the mixture in an ice-cream machine, then place into a container. Place a clingfilmed tray in the freezer for 10 minutes. Using a small coffee spoon, quenelle the sorbet and place onto the tray allowing three per portion.

For chocolate dip:

400g/14oz dark chocolate glaze

100ml/312fl oz groundnut or non-scented oil

Melt the plain dark chocolate glaze in a bowl on a bain-marie, then add the oil and stir in well.

Dip the quenelles of lime sorbet into the dark chocolate glaze and then place on to a tray. Place back into the freezer and reserve for later use.

For the lime sauce:

140g/5oz confied limes

75ml/212fl oz lime stock syrup from the confied limes

100ml/312fl oz lime juice

100ml/312fl oz stock syrup

200ml/7fl oz water

Blend to a fine coulis and pass through a fine sieve. Adjust texture and balance of the sauce to taste. Reserve.

For the candied lime zest:

3 limes

150g/5oz sugar

200ml/7fl oz water

Using a peeler, peel off the zest of the lime and cut into fine strips. Place into a saucepan and cover with water, bring to the boil and refresh. Repeat twice. Add the sugar and water, and cook until tender, leave to cool.

To dress the dessert: peel a banana and slice at an angle. Each piece should only be about 1cm (12in) thick. Dip one slice into sugar and using a blow torch caramelise the banana. Flood the dessert plate lightly with the lime sauce, place three caramelised bananas around the plate evenly, then three lime sorbet quenelles which have been dipped in the chocolate glaze.

In between each of the quenelles and banana place a candied piece of lime zest. In the middle of the plate place one of the chocolate disks then a banana parfait, on top of that a chocolate disk, then banana parfait and finally another chocolate disk.

! Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon (01647 432 3678)

GUNN ERIKSEN'S KRUMKAKER

Many think that Gunn Eriksen, the Norwegian-born proprietor of Altnaharrie Inn, to be the best cook in Scotland. This dessert is just one of an exquisite threesome that she serves.

Serves 4-6

To make the biscuit cups:

2 eggs

85g/3oz caster sugar

125g/412oz margarine

150g/5oz plain white flour

pinch freshly ground cardamom

For the filling:

2 egg yolks

50g/2oz icing sugar

2 tablespoons cloudberry liqueur

150g/5oz cloudberries

400ml/14fl oz double cream

1 egg white

For the spun sugar:

150g/5oz caster sugar

For the biscuit cups, mix eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the margarine, allow to cool. Mix the sugar and eggs with the margarine, then add the flour and cardamom - the mix should have a thick spooning consistency.

The Krumkaker (biscuit cup) is cooked in an old-fashioned Norwegian iron mould (called a krumkake jern) which is heated over an open fire or on a cooker. There is a modern Teflon-coated version called a krumkaker-maker. Cook the biscuits by spooning the mixture on to the hot iron and cooking until golden. Quickly remove the cooked biscuits and shape into a cup.

To make the filling, mix egg yolks and icing sugar until pale and light. Add the liqueur and the cloudberries (leaving a few for decoration). Whip the cream; add to the mixture. Whisk egg white until stiff and gently fold in. Freeze the mixture until it has the consistency of slightly soft ice-cream. For the spun sugar, melt sugar in a non-stick pan until golden. Remove from heat. Wearing rubber gloves, draw fine threads from the pan using a wooden spoon. Wrap threads around your gloved hands in all directions to give a spun effect. Fill krumkaker with ice-cream; decorate with cloudberries and spun sugar.

! Altnaharrie Inn, Ullapool, Highlands (01854 633230)

PHILIP HOWARD'S TARTE FINE OF PEACHES

Philip Howard's dramatic restaurant provides a background for modern food rooted in classical traditions. His desserts are particularly well executed.

Serves 4

For the tarte fine:

4 disks puff pastry, 1cm/12in thick, 15cm/6in diameter

4 peaches

80g/212oz almond cream (made from equal quantities of butter, egg, sugar and ground almonds)

icing sugar to dust

For the ice-cream:

8 egg yolks

200g/7oz sugar

400ml/14fl oz milk

500ml/16fl oz double cream

200ml/7fl oz elderflower syrup

2 vanilla pods (split, with seeds extracted)

For the ice-cream boil the milk and cream with the vanilla pods and extract. Lightly whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and pour half of the milk mix on to them. Add the rest of the milk, return to the heat. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, leave to cool, add elderflower syrup and churn in an ice-cream maker.

For the tarte fines, spread the pastry disks with almond cream. Slice the peaches finely and fan on top. Dust each tarte with icing sugar and cook in a pre-heated oven at 425F/220C/Gas 7 for 25 to 30 minutes until a rich caramelised colour is attained. Allow to rest for five minutes on a cake rack but serve while warm with a quenelle of ice-cream.

! The Square, 6-10 Bruton Street, London W1 (0171 839 8787)

NOBU'S ROASTED PINEAPPLE SOUP

Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa arrived in London via South America and California where he had the good luck to meet his backer, actor Robert de Niro. This fusion of styles appears at Nobu, where it is the English chef, Mark Edwards, who does the business.

Serves 4-6

2 medium sweet pineapples (skin on)

850ml/2712fl oz water

200g/7oz caster sugar

2 vanilla pods

2 sticks lemon grass

zest of 1 lime

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Roast the pineapples for one hour, then allow to cool. Meanwhile, place sugar and 100ml (312fl oz) of water in a large saucepan and cook until a caramel.

Split vanilla pods and remove the seeds. Finely chop the lemon grass. Add these ingredients to the lime zest.

Peel the pineapples and roughly chop. Liquidise with 750ml (24fl oz) of water until smooth. Add this to the caramel mixture and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer. Add the lemon grass, vanilla pods and lime zest and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve, discarding the pulp. Refrigerate until ice cold.

For the vanilla tea sorbet:

350ml/12fl oz water

350g/12oz caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

5g/14oz vanilla tea

Boil water, sugar and split vanilla pod for two minutes, take off heat, infuse tea for 10 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve. Freeze in an ice- cream machine.

For the mitsubo cookies:

50g/112oz butter

50g/112oz caster sugar

50g/112oz egg white

50g/112oz flour

75g/212oz chopped mitsubo (japanese herb, similar to coriander)

Pre-heat oven to 300F/150C/Gas 2. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy, slowly add egg white and mix until smooth; add flour and mitsubo, mix to a smooth paste. Bake for six to eight minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool. Serve in a shallow green bowl.

! Nobu, Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane, W1 (0171 447 4747)

PETER GORDON'S

VATTALAPAM

The gifted Peter Gordon is the envy of many young chefs, a magpie seizing glittering ideas from around the world. In the hands of others they could be a mishmash, but like Midas, it seems that everything he touches turns to gold.

Serves 6

500ml/18fl oz unsweetened coconut milk

3 teaspoons finely ground green cardamom

1 teaspoon finely ground mixed spice

100g/312oz golden syrup (coconut palm sugar if you can find it - try an Asian food store)

5 eggs (please use free-range)

12 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

80g/214oz demerara sugar (coconut-palm sugar if possible)

2 tablespoons plain cooking oil

60 unsalted cashew nuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Have six 200ml (7fl oz) ovenproof ramekins ready. Prepare a bain-marie by half-filling a roasting dish with hot water and place it on a sheet in the top third of the oven. Bring the milk, spices and golden syrup to the boil, cover with a lid and put aside in a warm place for 10 minutes. Beat the eggs, vanilla and demerara sugar for 30 seconds and gently whisk the hot milk mixture into them. Oil the ramekins and divide the cashew nuts between them, then pour the custard over the nuts. Place in the bain-marie and bake for 40 minutes.

Test by inserting a wooden skewer; it should come out clean, if a little moist. Allow to cool in the ramekins before placing in the fridge for at least two hours to set (they will keep for up to four days). Run a knife around the sides and shake gently to remove he dessert. Serve with wedges of tropical fruit.

! Sugar Club, 33a All Saints Road, London W11 (0171 221 3844)

TOM AIKENS' LIME PARFAIT

No trouble is too much for Tom Aikens, newly installed in the starry Michelin firmament. There is no mistaking the skill and effort which go into every dish, especially the desserts.

Serves 4

For the lime parfait:

3 limes, zest and juice

5 egg yolks

90g/3oz caster sugar

180ml/6fl oz double cream

Add lime juice to the sugar and bring to the boil. Boil for three minutes until you have a thick, clear syrup. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks to double their volume. Slowly pour on the hot lime syrup whisking constantly. Whisk until cold.

Lightly whip the cream and fold into the egg yolks with the lime zest. Place into a rectangular tray, 30cm by 20cm (13in by 9in) and 1.5cm (34in) deep. Freeze until parfait is set (two hours).

For the lime syrup:

2 limes, zest and juice

12g/12oz caster sugar

Put the lime juice in a pan with the zest and sugar and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool.

For the ginger savarin:

100g/312oz butter, soft

100g/312oz icing sugar

80g/212oz plain flour

45g/112oz ground almonds

2 eggs

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 small piece of stem ginger, approx 6g/14oz

Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, almonds and eggs until incorporated. Then finely dice the stem ginger and beat into the mix along with the ground ginger. Half fill four individual small round moulds with the savarin mixture. When you are almost ready to serve the dessert, cook the savarin at 400F/200C/Gas 6 for five to eight minutes, until firm to the touch.

To serve, cut the lime parfait into triangles, three per person then turn out the warm savarin. Serve the individual savarin with three triangles of lime parfait on top; the picture shows it interleaved with wafers of caramelized sugar. Pour a little lime syrup around.

! Pied a Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, London W1 (0171 636 1178)

STEPHEN TERRY'S PANNA COTTA WITH CONFIT TOMATOES

Stephen Terry presides over Coast's modern kitchen which generates excitement in everything it does. Expect the unexpected. The desserts must be among London's most inventive.

Serves 8

For the panna cotta:

1.2 litres/2 pints milk

115g/4oz caster sugar

4 vanilla pods

4-5 gelatine leaves

Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla to the boil. Remove from the heat; cool. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften them, then add to the warm mixture. Pass through a strainer.

For the sweet confit tomato:

4 plum tomatoes

150ml/5fl oz stock syrup made from 75ml/212fl oz of water and 75g/212oz of sugar

Blanche the plum tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds and then imme- diately "refresh" in iced water for 10 minutes to prevent any further cooking. Remove the skin, cut into quarters and remove the seeds.

Boil some stock syrup, pour over the tomatoes in a flat tray and place in the oven for one hour (400F/200C/Gas 6).

The tomatoes are then placed in the bottom of eight 7cm (3in) diameter shallow moulds. Top up with the panna cotta mixture. Put the moulds into the fridge for 12 hours to set. Turn over in the middle of a plate and dress with the syrup from the confit tomato.

! Coast, 26b Albemarle Street, London W1 (0171 495 5999)

RAYMOND BLANC'S BROCHETTE DE FRUITS EXOTIQUES

Some top chefs establish a repertoire and stick to it. Raymond Blanc is the opposite, restlessly experimenting, exploring and fine-tuning nuances of colour, texture and taste. This brochette of exotic fruits is such an example.

The skewers may be prepared and left to marinate one day in advance. The rice and sabayon may be prepared and kept refrigerated one day in advance.

Serves 4

1 large mango

1 baby pineapple

2 large kiwi fruit

1 large banana

150ml/5fl oz water

150g/5oz sugar

juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon blanched green peppercorns

Make a syrup with the sugar, water, green peppercorns and lime juice. Peel the fruits and cut each into eight, 3cm (114in) squares. Place two pieces of each fruit on each skewer then put into the syrup to marinate. Set aside.

For the rice:

100g/312oz jasmine Thai rice

290ml/10fl oz sweetened coconut milk

290ml/10fl oz unsweetened coconut milk

1 vanilla pod

Blanche the rice in boiling water until almost cooked (approximately 10 minutes). Strain it through a colander.

Bring both coconut milks to the boil together with the vanilla pod. Add the blanched rice and simmer gently over a moderate heat until thoroughly cooked (approximately five minutes). Cool as quickly as possible on a tray.

For the passion fruit sorbet:

600ml/20fl oz passion fruit puree (seeded) reduced to 300ml/10fl oz

120ml/4fl oz sugar syrup made with 60g/2oz of sugar and 60ml/2fl oz water

Mix the reduced passion fruit pulp with the sugar syrup and churn.

For the passion fruit coulis:

160g/512oz passion fruit puree (strained)

caster sugar to taste (depending on the ripeness of the passion fruit)

green peppercorns from the marinade

Mix ingredients together well.

For the guava sabayon:

2 egg yolks

110g/4oz sugar syrup made with 55g/2oz sugar and 55ml/2fl oz water

cooked pureed pulp of 112 very ripe guavas

45ml/112fl oz cream, lightly whipped.

Cook the sugar syrup to 250F/121C then pour over the yolks, beat until cool. Fold in the cream and guava puree. Set aside.

To serve: pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. On four rectangular or oval plates make four rectangles slightly bigger than the skewers with the rice. Places the skewers on top then mask with the sabayon. Dust with icing sugar then place underneath the grill for one to two minutes until lightly browned. Spoon the passion fruit coulis around the skewers and rice. Place a quenelle of sorbet at each end of the plate. Serve.

Le Manioir aux Quat' Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford (01844 278881)

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